Bill forces Xcel to pay more for wood energyLegislation that forces Xcel Energy to pay the full cost of wood-fired electricity from Laurentian Energy generators in Virginia and Hibbing is on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton to be signed into law.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
Legislation that forces Xcel Energy to pay the full cost of wood-fired electricity from Laurentian Energy generators in Virginia and Hibbing is on its way to Gov. Mark Dayton to be signed into law.
The legislation, expected to save Laurentian about $1.4 million annually, passed the Minnesota House on Tuesday night by a 76-55 margin. An identical version already had passed the Senate.
Current law requires Twin Cities-based Xcel to purchase power from wood-farm biomass generation facilities owned and operated by Laurentian. The wood-burners opened in 2007 after the Legislature originally approved the project in 2003.
The amended contract requires Xcel to reimburse Laurentian for fuel costs used to deliver both coal and wood to the plants in Virginia and Hibbing. It also restricts Xcel from charging Laurentian for other costs and requires Xcel to buy all power produced by the biomass facility up to 110 percent of annual production scheduled.
Xcel already is forced to comply with similar rules for biomass generators in St. Paul and Benson, Minn.
“This bill levels the playing field between our state’s three biomass facilities that have agreements with Xcel Energy,” Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, chief sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “It makes sure that the renewable energy produced at the facilities in Hibbing and Virginia will continue providing power to thousands of residential and commercial customers in our region.”